Busy day on Calypso - part one

Whilst it wasn’t to clement on the surface what were conditions like in the briny? Well it depended exactly where you were diving!

The South Side of Beadnell Point was un-diveable whilst on the North Side the vis was around 3 or 4 meters, further out at Brownsman it was around the 8m mark. Not an unexpected difference as the Islands are surrounded by deeper water where the silt, once settled is difficult to get back into the water column, whilst close to shore there is an awful amount of kelp where the fronds are covered in silt!

There is nothing of interest to report from my dip on the North Side, well I guess the nothing to report is interesting as there was a dearth of lobsters. I dived here a couple of weeks ago and they were everywhere but today none were poking their heads from their hidey holes and most of the hidey holes were empty, I wonder if the annual migration to the deeps has started? The other interesting observation was the lack of fish-life, there were a couple fishing from the point who had managed a few small pollack and a rockling but I saw absolutely no finned sea-life, this wasn’t helped by the reduced visibility but even at levels like this you can usually spot the usual fish……

My second dive was very interesting, I try to dive the area directly in-front of the old lighthouse on Brownsman Island once a year the reason being that a sailing ship called Snowdonia which aground on 14th Oct 1881, the area is only around 8m deep meaning that the wreck can’t remotely be described as ‘identifiable’ as anything other than odd bits of ferrous material lying on or in the seabed but there is always the chance of a keel pin or two and the hope that maybe something really ‘nice’ will be turned over. A few years ago a friend found two ships chronometers on the site, one was scrap but the other was in a condition where a repair would be possible, so there is always the chance that this little dived site just might…….just maybe…………But on this dive there was no shipwreck treasure, sure I picked up some small pieces of copper sheathing and the like but the interesting finds were not associated with the wreck.

Almost as soon as I got to the bottom a blue colour caught my eye and nestled in the water at the bottom of the short boulder slope was an intact guillemot egg, an interesting find as the nesting season is long gone and we have had a couple of hard northerly blow ups which I would have thought would have smashed up any egg, although perhaps an intact egg has more strength than shards of an egg left after a successful hatch.

When I was working out what had laid the egg I had quite an informative read, apparently it used to be thought that the tapered nature of the egg was to stop it rolling off the cliff ledges where the guillemots lay their egg. Note I said lay their egg, there is no attempt at all to make a nest, a suitable ledge is found then the egg is laid an incubated, no effort to drag up any weed to make a semblance of home! Anyway modern investigation has shown that the very tapered shape of the egg offers no tangible benefit for rolling off the ledge and is in fact to ensure that part of the egg remains clear of the bird-shite that starts building up on the nesting site.

Anyway, back to matters aquatic! With significantly better visibility out at the Islands it was good to see a huge shoal of coalfish who were ‘on station’ at the corner of the Island, it must be a quite good hunting ground, with the area between Staple and Brownsman drying out at low tide I am sure that there are usually large amounts of sandeels in the area and the stream of water moving through this gut as the tide empties out will certainly push these bait-fish down to the area where the coalfish were lurking.

I spent a little time in the boulders looking for keel-pins and blue fiends and there were quite a few, unfortunately I had left my implements onboard Calypso and the lobsters were all very skitterish so there was no chance of teasing them out with a bit of kelp, which you can do. Before anyone comments if you don’t have implements don’t just make a grab for a fiends nippers as they will shed and you will be left holding some claws whilst the associated lobster will zip back into its hole without the wherewithal to either defend the hole from other lobsters who encroach or effectively feed. Bearing in mind if IFCA catch you with claws only then you will land you with a four figure fine you, then ditch the claws and everything looses out!

The site has been cleaned out over the last twelve months and the sand that used to be present right up to the edge of the boulder slope has now gone, washed away in storms and you are now left with beds of small fist size rocks and even more ferrous material from the wreck, on the wreck front this has at least given more of a layout of the lost vessel as you can follow a broad debris field away from the rock-face, on my slow swim over this extended fioeld I spotted and collected a pottery thing, which I hope you can see in the photograph I have attached from my gallery below!

Looking at what it could be I am at a total loss of what this would be from a ship and the only thing that resembled the find were early loom weights from the Iron-age/Viking era, now this may seem a bit far fetched but please bear with me. The site is within fifty yards of the combined dwelling and lighthouse that was built significantly after this era, but the same site is the most obvious place to ‘live’ on this isle and for sure this site was inhabited by the monks of Lindisfarne who set up shop in around 650AD and had people living on the Islands along with their live-stock. So perhaps it’s not so far fetched that it is a contemporaneous loom weight that was thrown into the sea at some point.

After this pair of dives it was time to fire up Calypso and dive elsewhere, but where is elsewhere?

Dive safe


Weight this dive – 6.6 kg

Weight this year – 1216.1 kg

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